Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Web 2.0 and Pervasive Business Intelligence

A recent online ComputerWorld article is entitled "Can Web 2.0 Save BI?". The article focuses mostly on the mash-up functionality delivered by a Web 2.0-based analytic application and the simplicity it can deliver to even a novice end user. I found this article interesting but narrow in its scope. So, I wondered: "How important are Web 2.0 principles and technologies to the current and near-future state of business intelligence?". I say they provide vital, lifeblood, must-have, without-them-you-perish capabilities. At Jaspersoft, we are completely convicted about defining and delivering the ultimate Web 2.0 experience in business intelligence. Here are three reasons why.

1. Aged BI Architectures That Need to Be Displaced. The large, proprietary BI software vendors have very dated software architectures (in some cases, 20+ years to origin) that will greatly constrain them as they need to transition to more and more truly web-based capabilities. These vendors will have to mostly rely on web services extensions and / or retro-fitting their C/C++ underpinnings to accommodate a web audience with growing consumer-like expectations. So, in addition to the BI consolidation and market opportunity that it presents (for Jaspersoft), these proprietary vendors are leaving a technology gap wide open for new, modern software architectures like what we offer.

2. The Consumerization of Information.
For each of the last 2 major releases, Jaspersoft has been busy building-in a growing array of pure thin-client, web-based features that rely on the most modern technologies: AJAX, Dynamic HTML, rich media integration, HTML "frames" for elegantly creating composite dashboards and reports, and the "sideband" dialog that can be orchestrated between browser (client) and server to make sophisticated user interaction more seamless. The result is a user experience that is superior to many desktop applications (because it can draw on the collaborative technologies of the web, like the ability to quickly "mash-up" data, at the presentation layer, from a variety of web sources) and provides the "consumer-like" feel that is now a requirement based on much higher customer expectations. Most importantly, because of our modern approach, we’ll just be able to continue building in features like mash-ups as new technologies and customer requirements emerge.

3. Better Business Intelligence.
Lastly, one of the primary reasons all of this is important for Jaspersoft (and its community and customers) isn’t because it provides for a compelling, web-based experience (although it does). It is because these technologies will allow us to do NEW things in BI that our aged, proprietary competitors CANNOT (or cannot with any ease). Here’s just one example: Jaspersoft has been steadily introducing more and more functionality into the most comfortable and common BI construct available: the report. Everyone knows we clearly lead the world of reporting (based on the remarkable popularity of JasperReports and iReport). We are uniquely prepared (and suited) to leverage this broad base of community and customers who rely on us (strategically) for superior reporting and then continue to introduce more and more analytic capabilities within our familiar reporting construct. This combination of analytic features within a simple report will allow everyone to interact with and analyze data much more fully than even interactive reports of the present allow. Delivering simple and sophisticated analytic (OLAP-like) functionality within the reporting environment will allow the average user to:
a) feel comfortable performing analytic chores with data that they would not through a stand-alone OLAP client tool, and
b) not leave his production / application environment for a completely different analytic system (and potentially data store(s)) to "analyze" data . . . in which case new learning must occur and the data sources immediately become suspect.

So, Jaspersoft’s answer to "Web 2.0 Pervasive BI" is to leverage the comfortable environment of the report interface and deliver within deeper, richer (but simple) interactive analytics so that every user can become more capable and informed. Jaspersoft could not provide such rich reporting and analytic functionality without the benefit of the Web 2.0 technologies that define our software. We expect it and so do our community and customers.

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer

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